There are a number of reasons to consider sperm freezing (a.k.a. sperm cryopreservation). Some couples find it more convenient to have sperm frozen in advance of their IUI or IVF treatment, particularly if they anticipate collection difficulties, the sperm count is low, or if the male partner is going to be out-of-town.
Men about to undergo a vasectomy or a medical treatment that is expected to make them sterile, such as chemotherapy or radiation treatment, can freeze their sperm beforehand as a means of fertility preservation for use in the future. Transgender women can choose sperm freezing before, or after, starting hormone therapy.
The sperm is frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 C. It can be stored indefinitely with no apparent degradation in quality. In most cases, for IVF, frozen sperm works as well as fresh sperm.
The cost for sperm freezing and annual storage can be found on our Fees page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why freeze sperm?
Here are some common reasons to freeze sperm:
- For convenience in advance of IUI or IVF treatment, particularly for anticipated collection difficulties, or if the male partner is going to be out-of-town.
- If the sperm count is low.
- Prior to vasectomy.
- Prior to cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
- Transgender women prior to, or during, hormone therapy.
How secure is my frozen sample?
To access the PCRM storage facility, one would need to pass through a series of locked doors, which are only accessible to specific PCRM medical and laboratory staff. Our facility also has an independent security system and security guards for the building 24 hours a day. The storage tanks are filled with liquid nitrogen, and the levels are checked and recorded weekly. The holding time for these tanks is several weeks, meaning that if for some reason it was not possible to top up the liquid nitrogen, the samples could still stay frozen. Also, because we use liquid nitrogen and not electricity, samples will remain safely frozen during power outages.
How is sperm frozen?
The semen sample is produced at PCRM in one of our collection rooms. It is analyzed and then diluted carefully with a cryoprotectant solution designed to protect the sperm during freezing. Once diluted, the sample is divided up and put into straws for freezing. At PCRM, we use High-Security Straws, a cryopreservation system that minimizes any risk of sample cross-contamination in the storage tank. These straws have a separate compartment so that the sample’s identification and sample can be sealed inside the straw. The straws are heat-sealed at both ends and then cooled in controlled-rate freezers. Once the samples have cooled to -150°C, they are transferred into a storage compartment in a liquid nitrogen storage tank, where they are stored at -196°C until needed.